Conventional hydrometallurgy technologies, whether they are solvent extraction, carbon absorption, or absorption on conventional resin technology, often do not provide quantitative recovery of metal in mine leach solutions. This leads to a loss of top-line revenue and possible alteration of the water/leach chemistry by remaining metal values.
Reasons for incomplete metal binding:
1. The interaction between the binding material and target metals is too weak.
2. The exchange of metal from solution onto the support is too slow to enable complete bonding.
3. Other metals or competing species in solution interfere with the binding.
IntelliMet overcomes these limitations with the unique properties of its resin material:
1. We design custom binding groups that are optimized to provide strong binding interactions under the solution conditions of the mine.
2. The Spiderweb™ matrix enables immediate contact between metals in solution and the binding groups.
As a result, IntelliMet is able to get high metal recoveries even under difficult solution
1. Highly acidic or basic environments
2. High TDS environment
3. Mixed metal streams, with high levels of iron or other interfering metals
4. Wide ranges of PH
Targeting specific metals:
In addition to making a fundamentally new resin material, IntelliMet designs custom metal
chelators that target and bind metals of interest. These specialty chelators ensure that:
1. Desired metals bind, while undesired metals pass through.
2. Desired metals are bound with differing strength to enable separation.
3. Chelators release metals in a concentrated form (one bed volume elution) under the
Chelators are specifically designed to bind the targeted metals with the right binding strength, under the particular solution conditions presented by the stream. Conventional resin materials have a limited set of chelators that are unlikely to provide optimal separation performance.
A Custom Approach:
The IntelliMet team uses its expertise in organic synthesis, and metal-chelator bonding chemistry to custom design metal binding groups that target the separation issues for each project we undertake. With the help of the Spiderweb™ resin, IntelliMet is able to design recovery and separation processes which function with laser-like speed and precision.
The behavior of a particular metal/ion species is largely dependent on their electronic structure, and their hydrometallurgical properties resulting from this structure. When we design specialty chelators for particular projects, we use the Periodic Table to classify chelators that will be most effective in addressing the given separation challenges. After scanning some more generic chelators for the class of the targeted metal, we further optimize and refine the chelator structure to provide excellent binding/exchange properties.
Recovering Secondary Metal Values:
While many mines only target one metal value in the stream, other metals in the stream can often be highly valuable. If they are left in the stream without treatment, these metals can: (1) be an economic loss to the mine, (2) consume leach reagents, (3) interfere with leaching process, (4) contaminate electroreduced or precipitated metal products, and (5) contaminate effluent waters, creating a water treatment problem.
Using the selective binding chemistry and rapid exchange processes of the Spiderweb™, IntelliMet can turn secondary metals from a liability into an asset by separating, purifying, and recovering them, without major additional process costs.
Managing Mine Discharge and Decommissioning:
For mines managing contamination of waters from mine streams and waste solutions represents major cost, plus substantial regulatory and environmental problem. Environmental regulations and an increasing “green” consciousness mandate that many contaminants have to be reduced to non-detectable levels. As standards become more stringent companies pay more and more for being able to comply. With IntelliMet’s spiderweb technology this additional cost can be avoided. IntelliMet provides selective, strong-binding, high throughput systems that:
1. Reduce metal contaminants to non-detectable levels
2. Have low start-up/operating cost
3. Selectively remove contaminants from solution without adding other species
4. Recover valuable contaminants as salable materials to offset treatment costs